Philip Larsen leaves Edmonton Oilers; signs in KHL

Jonathan Willis
May 28 2014 10:01AM

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Philip Larsen was one of a group of players filed under “maybe” for the Edmonton Oilers this summer. The slight defender (who played what might have been his best hockey in a late-season stint at right wing) will not be back for next season, having opted to sign a one-year KHL deal instead.

What it means for Larsen

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This was a logical move for Larsen, who had some moments at the NHL level but was without question one of the problems on the Oilers blue line in 2013-14. It was questionable whether Edmonton would choose to qualify him; they would have needed to give him a seven-figure offer and that's a lot of money for a 'tweener. 

Larsen's skill-set should be a fit for the KHL, where teams play a more passive game. There, his strengths (passing, skating the puck) should stand out while his major weaknesses (particularly in front of his own net) should be tested less.

It's interesting that this is only a one-year contract, because Larsen seems like a guy born to play overseas and he spent four long seasons trying to make the NHL without ever really establishing himself. 

What it means for Edmonton

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Honestly, not much.

Larsen's skills were not a great fit on a blue line that already possessed his strengths to some degree and that certainly had his weaknesses. He might have slotted in as the No. 7 or No. 8 defender, but there are numerous options in free agency who are better fits in Edmonton. 

This does help frame the Shawn Horcoff trade to Dallas. Larsen's departure means that all that remains now is a 2016 seventh-round draft pick. Dallas took on Horcoff's salary and got a disappointing campaign but great playoffs (six points in six games, plus-five) in exchange. 

This may also impact Taylor Fedun's thinking on a return to Edmonton. Fedun and Larsen were competing for similar minutes, and while Larsen (inexplicably) won them this year he's now out of the way.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Soccer Steve
May 28 2014, 10:35AM
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If Horcoff doesn't sign that big contract (which ALL of us would've, to a man) I wager he'd retire an Oil legend(-ish).

How nice would it be to have another veteran third/fourth centreman, one who is capable of moving up in a pinch, to mentor Nuge and our new pick coming this year? To show what it takes to be a professional. To take some burden off Boyd too.

All you haters who wanted him gone because he was cashing cheques of someone else's money...enjoy your 7th round pick.

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#2 Eulers
May 28 2014, 10:04AM
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The Oilers keep losing their fringe players to the KHL.

As they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Maybe the Oilers would at least be a respectable KHL team. Maybe.

Sorry, folks, just bitterness speaking.

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#3 Will
May 28 2014, 10:26AM
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That is going to be my mailbag question:

What else does Fedun have to do to show he deserves a spot?

The guy had what, 2 games last year and in those games got a goal and an assist. I know he's not as big and doesn't play that mean game, but if he keeps the puck out of our end and can make passes, what else does he need to do?

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#4 Geoff
May 28 2014, 10:29AM
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I hope this means the Oilers will give Fedun a solid chance. I really think he deserves it.

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#5 Zarny
May 28 2014, 12:15PM
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closetgm wrote:

Lets be serious here. Horcoff wanted out. If the oilers traded everyone on the team that the " Fans " wanted traded there would be no one left. Horc wanted to be traded so we traded him for nothing. I have a serious issue with Horcoff. He had no problem cashing all those cheques and taking the C. Then he turns around and says he wants out because things are no longer going his way. I Cant stand that mother#$ker. Glad he is gone and don't want anyone with that kind of attitude on this team. I used to defend him to all the guys bashing him all the time. He is a POS and I hope he never plays another game in the league again. It just goes to show how wrong oilers management is in everything they do. To give a guy like that the C on a young impressionable team is asinine.

You're an idiot.

Horcoff didn't want out; otherwise he would have made such demands before enduring 3 years of futility and only 2 years left on his contract.

The problem was always that the Oilers overpaid Horcoff for one season of 50 pts in 53 games that he could never match again. If you blame Horcoff for signing an overpaid contract you're too stupid to live.

And since you seem too dense to pick on things that are blatantly obvious Horcoff was probably the player the Oilers missed most last season. He was good enough to be a 1C offensively, but defensively he could handle the heavy minutes. He was literally a consummate professional throughout the rebuild.

You should try reality sometime; you'll like it.

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#6 Bucknuck
May 28 2014, 10:45AM
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"Fedun and Larsen were competing for similar minutes, and while Larsen (inexplicably) won them this year he's now out of the way."

The inexplicable probably falls under the heading of player development. Fedun got better quality minutes in a minor league setting, and could better develop his game.

Everyone goes on about player development and letting the kids develop in the minors, stating that the Oilers don't do this and damning them for it. But when they have done it, they get jumped on for putting stop gap players into the lineup instead (Larsen).

Damned if they do, damned if they don't. It's one of the bad things about losing as much as they do.

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#7 Mike Krushelnyski
May 28 2014, 10:30AM
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Eulers wrote:

The Oilers keep losing their fringe players to the KHL.

As they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Maybe the Oilers would at least be a respectable KHL team. Maybe.

Sorry, folks, just bitterness speaking.

It does kind of put things in perspective. If you can't make it on the Oilers, you're not cut out for the NHL.

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#8 kdunbar
May 28 2014, 10:10AM
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I would not have qualified Larsen and offered him 750K to be the 23rd player. Sort of a second insert on either the defence or forward.

If he can make more money in the KHL, good luck to him.

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#9 vetinari
May 28 2014, 10:50AM
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Not that surprising, really, and not that much of a loss to the team.

I suspect that Larsen was more of a "you gotta take a contract back" add-in on the Horcoff deal rather than a key piece. He's off the books and a spot on the 50 man contract list is now open.

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#10 Al Low
May 28 2014, 10:26AM
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The Oilers have a tendency to allow these types of fringe players to hang around. It's good to hear Larsen will not be an option next year.

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#11 TKB2677
May 28 2014, 10:14AM
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The guys the Oilers are "losing" to the KHL are career AHL guys and players who aren't good enough to play in the NHL. The problem with the Oilers is they are having to play too many of the Larsen's in their line up.

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#12 OldSchool
May 28 2014, 10:39AM
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Will wrote:

That is going to be my mailbag question:

What else does Fedun have to do to show he deserves a spot?

The guy had what, 2 games last year and in those games got a goal and an assist. I know he's not as big and doesn't play that mean game, but if he keeps the puck out of our end and can make passes, what else does he need to do?

4gp, 2 goals for Fedun...

Totally agree. If the plan is to take time and develop d-men in the minors, then please don't sweep them under the rug when a shiny new Phil Larsen comes around.

That's just ridiculous.

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#13 loweblows
May 28 2014, 11:20AM
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OldSchool wrote:

4gp, 2 goals for Fedun...

Totally agree. If the plan is to take time and develop d-men in the minors, then please don't sweep them under the rug when a shiny new Phil Larsen comes around.

That's just ridiculous.

If Fedun played for the Marlies he would be on the team!

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#14 Racki
May 28 2014, 10:32AM
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TKB2677 wrote:

The guys the Oilers are "losing" to the KHL are career AHL guys and players who aren't good enough to play in the NHL. The problem with the Oilers is they are having to play too many of the Larsen's in their line up.

Exactly. Who cares if the lost Larsen to the KHL. There's a reason they are lost to the KHL and not the NHL... They aren't NHLers!

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#15 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
May 28 2014, 12:38PM
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closetgm wrote:

Lets be serious here. Horcoff wanted out. If the oilers traded everyone on the team that the " Fans " wanted traded there would be no one left. Horc wanted to be traded so we traded him for nothing. I have a serious issue with Horcoff. He had no problem cashing all those cheques and taking the C. Then he turns around and says he wants out because things are no longer going his way. I Cant stand that mother#$ker. Glad he is gone and don't want anyone with that kind of attitude on this team. I used to defend him to all the guys bashing him all the time. He is a POS and I hope he never plays another game in the league again. It just goes to show how wrong oilers management is in everything they do. To give a guy like that the C on a young impressionable team is asinine.

i was going to waste my time with a nice, well thought out response to this, but i decided i would be polite and just point and laugh at you instead.

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#16 kdunbar
May 28 2014, 10:12AM
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Maybe the KHL Is to the NHL like the CFL is to the NFL.

Lower quality of player and a much different game.

except the KHL players make a ton of money.

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#17 Air on Egg blood
May 28 2014, 12:53PM
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It seems each time someone either leaves the Oilers for Europe (Larsen, Belov, Reddox)or comment on the state of affairs with the Oilers (Hemsky, Smid, etc.) or refuses to come here (Heatley, Nylander, Clarkson), we Oiler fans only focus on the messenger. Ex: "he's not an NHLer, he's a jerk, his contract was bad," etc. At what point will we concentrate on the message: Players don't want to play here and it's not because of the weather. It won't change untill we get a better front office, a better coaching staff and a winning culture.

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#18 VK63
May 28 2014, 10:09AM
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I enjoyed his interviews.

His capacity to blast the puck into opposition shin pads…. not so much.

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#19 madjam
May 28 2014, 11:17AM
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The gutting continues , now lets see some upgrades coming in .

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#20 LOIL99
May 28 2014, 02:18PM
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madjam wrote:

We are down to Fraser , Ference , Petry, Shultz , Marincin and Petry on defence . Hard to imagine they'll keep Fraser . If Klefbom draws in that is probably 5 starting . Basically only 3 veterans of note plus two rookies one might say in Klefbom and Marincin . Are they going to fill ins ,rookies or upgrades on at least 3 more spots if they do not get and employ Ekblad ?

Forwards Smyth , Hemsky and Jones gone . Now what is going to replace them any better . I say better because it was obvious they were not enough . Gagner they are flirting with dumping and Yak appears to want out . That's possibly 5 more holes that probably will not see any upgrading .

We have two back up goaltenders vying for starter . Not much to get to excited about there .

Analysis : We get further and further away from a decent base for our emerging youth .

Yak wants out? Did he tell you that on the phone? Text? Snapchat? Grinder?

Casual fans on here who state that this player or that player thinks this thing or that thing are laughable.

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#21 bwar
May 28 2014, 12:01PM
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I actually didn't mind him as a fourth line winger and dman on the second powerplay. I think this is the right move for Larsen and hopefully he does great in the KHL.

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#22 Sorensenator
May 28 2014, 10:41AM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

It does kind of put things in perspective. If you can't make it on the Oilers, you're not cut out for the NHL.

Just the wrong type of player on the wrong team. Larsen has an excellent skating ability that is far superior then any "7th" defenseman. He also has a good shot and puck moving skills.

Its not that he isn't good enough to play in the NHL, he needs to be on a big team where he can play his game.

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#23 backup bob
May 28 2014, 11:33AM
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The exodus continues for one reason or another. A lot has to be added, to make up an NHL caliber roster for the upcoming season.

Seems to me, the Oilers have trouble identifying talent to begin with.

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#24 Lychan
May 28 2014, 11:53AM
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What defenceman can Eakins play on the wing now?

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#25 MessyEH
May 28 2014, 02:42PM
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@Zarny

Justin Schultz is a sh*tty version of Justin Schultz.

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#26 OilersDynasty
May 28 2014, 10:39AM
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Don't know why they didn't keep him at forward. Would've added depth there, make him a full-time forward, like San Jose did with Brent Burns

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#27 Tikkanese
May 28 2014, 02:12PM
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Air on Egg blood wrote:

It seems each time someone either leaves the Oilers for Europe (Larsen, Belov, Reddox)or comment on the state of affairs with the Oilers (Hemsky, Smid, etc.) or refuses to come here (Heatley, Nylander, Clarkson), we Oiler fans only focus on the messenger. Ex: "he's not an NHLer, he's a jerk, his contract was bad," etc. At what point will we concentrate on the message: Players don't want to play here and it's not because of the weather. It won't change untill we get a better front office, a better coaching staff and a winning culture.

Nylander verbally agreed to a contract with the Oilers. His wife objected, so he went elsewhere. Nylander hardly refused Edmonton.

What you're saying is not true in all cases. Smyth demanded a trade to Edmonton. Souray and Khabby who were both the #1 UFA of their position on most lists chose Edmonton. Pronger happily signed a 5 year deal after the trade to Edmonton. He only left to save his marriage after his extra-marital affair almost ruined it.

You are correct that a winning culture would help sign more players. If Detroit had a losing culture I doubt any UFA would sign there unless severely overpaid.

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#28 Dave
May 28 2014, 10:07AM
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"Maybe the Oilers would at least be a respectable KHL team. Maybe." Really, is there anything else to bother commenting about?

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#29 Scott from Grande Prairie
May 28 2014, 10:42AM
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And the line on Larsen...

Excellent skater, not-bad-forward, absolute-tire-fire-of-a-defenceman.

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#30 Zarny
May 28 2014, 12:07PM
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Meh, no loss for the Oilers. Larsen is just a really sh*tty version of Justin Schultz.

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#31 Tikkanese
May 28 2014, 12:41PM
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To those saying that Larsen is not an NHL player when he is an only 24 year old defenseman, btw who has played 125 NHL games already when many long NHL career defensemen are just getting into their first games at that age is a little pre-emptive.

He however is more of the same when it comes to the current Oilers lineup. So for that reason, he is not much of a loss other than more depth.

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#32 loweblows
May 28 2014, 11:16AM
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OilersDynasty wrote:

Don't know why they didn't keep him at forward. Would've added depth there, make him a full-time forward, like San Jose did with Brent Burns

because we need another small forward-trash

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#33 Bucknuck
May 28 2014, 12:35PM
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tileguy wrote:

Start the handwringing on whether Nurse should be in junior or with the big club.

I was just thinking that very thing. I think it would be best for Nurse to get another year in Junior, but I'm not going to worry about it until training camp.

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#35 Bucknuck
May 28 2014, 12:31PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It's a nice thought, but the Oilers aren't exactly optimistic about Fedun's chances of becoming a full-time NHL player. He's extremely smart, but he's not big and he's not fast and it's hard to get past that.

I'll give you that. The Oilers do seem rather reserved when they sing his praises. It contrasts strongly with the way they speak about Klefbom and Nurse.

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#36 camdog
May 28 2014, 12:17PM
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I thought the Oilers were done with Fedun when they didn't give him a call up this spring. Wouldnt be surprised ih heads to europe as well.

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#37 madjam
May 28 2014, 01:00PM
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We are down to Fraser , Ference , Petry, Shultz , Marincin and Petry on defence . Hard to imagine they'll keep Fraser . If Klefbom draws in that is probably 5 starting . Basically only 3 veterans of note plus two rookies one might say in Klefbom and Marincin . Are they going to fill ins ,rookies or upgrades on at least 3 more spots if they do not get and employ Ekblad ?

Forwards Smyth , Hemsky and Jones gone . Now what is going to replace them any better . I say better because it was obvious they were not enough . Gagner they are flirting with dumping and Yak appears to want out . That's possibly 5 more holes that probably will not see any upgrading .

We have two back up goaltenders vying for starter . Not much to get to excited about there .

Analysis : We get further and further away from a decent base for our emerging youth .

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#38 loweblows
May 28 2014, 11:23AM
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kdunbar wrote:

Maybe the KHL Is to the NHL like the CFL is to the NFL.

Lower quality of player and a much different game.

except the KHL players make a ton of money.

Maybe a new acronym for the KHL-Kevin Hater League.

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#39 bazmagoo
May 28 2014, 12:12PM
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Hopefully we don't lose Fedun to free agency this off season, although I'd imagine he's fairly loyal to the Oilers considering the rehab they provided with his gruesome injury. Would like to see him offered the Lander/Arcobello special, 1 year/1 way deal at $600,000. Let's see if he can play in the big leagues.

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#40 BLAKPOO
May 28 2014, 12:49PM
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@Sorensenator

This.

Larsen has a great skill set - fast skater, good passer, positionally sound. Not the biggest guy out there, but he shouldn't have to fill those shoes. On a team with solid defense that lacks scoring, like Nashville, he should be a welcome addition.

He'll excel in KHL.

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#41 TKB2677
May 28 2014, 02:01PM
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@Zarny

You are right, Horcoff didn't pull a Pronger and demand a trade. What he did do in the end of the year interviews is he indicated to Mac T that he would welcome a change of teams if the opportunity presented himself. So did Hemsky.

So there is a slight difference but not much.

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#42 Alex Mathis
May 28 2014, 12:18PM
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A pitty he's left. He never got enough credit, neither from the coach or Oilersnation, IMO.

I would have kept him as a versitale allaround-player. One hopes that doesn't open the door for a Mark Fraser signing.

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#43 tileguy
May 28 2014, 12:28PM
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Start the handwringing on whether Nurse should be in junior or with the big club.

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#44 BLAKPOO
May 28 2014, 01:41PM
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madjam wrote:

We are down to Fraser , Ference , Petry, Shultz , Marincin and Petry on defence . Hard to imagine they'll keep Fraser . If Klefbom draws in that is probably 5 starting . Basically only 3 veterans of note plus two rookies one might say in Klefbom and Marincin . Are they going to fill ins ,rookies or upgrades on at least 3 more spots if they do not get and employ Ekblad ?

Forwards Smyth , Hemsky and Jones gone . Now what is going to replace them any better . I say better because it was obvious they were not enough . Gagner they are flirting with dumping and Yak appears to want out . That's possibly 5 more holes that probably will not see any upgrading .

We have two back up goaltenders vying for starter . Not much to get to excited about there .

Analysis : We get further and further away from a decent base for our emerging youth .

How are we further away? Have you been paying attention for the last 8 months?

We've upgraded at virtually every position. The only legitimate piece we've lost is Hemsky. I'm not saying we're close to being a playoff contender at this moment, but we're a damn sight better off now than we were at this time last year.

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#45 closetgm
May 28 2014, 11:39AM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

If Horcoff doesn't sign that big contract (which ALL of us would've, to a man) I wager he'd retire an Oil legend(-ish).

How nice would it be to have another veteran third/fourth centreman, one who is capable of moving up in a pinch, to mentor Nuge and our new pick coming this year? To show what it takes to be a professional. To take some burden off Boyd too.

All you haters who wanted him gone because he was cashing cheques of someone else's money...enjoy your 7th round pick.

Lets be serious here. Horcoff wanted out. If the oilers traded everyone on the team that the " Fans " wanted traded there would be no one left. Horc wanted to be traded so we traded him for nothing. I have a serious issue with Horcoff. He had no problem cashing all those cheques and taking the C. Then he turns around and says he wants out because things are no longer going his way. I Cant stand that mother#$ker. Glad he is gone and don't want anyone with that kind of attitude on this team. I used to defend him to all the guys bashing him all the time. He is a POS and I hope he never plays another game in the league again. It just goes to show how wrong oilers management is in everything they do. To give a guy like that the C on a young impressionable team is asinine.

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#46 tileguy
May 28 2014, 12:55PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I was just thinking that very thing. I think it would be best for Nurse to get another year in Junior, but I'm not going to worry about it until training camp.

As a tier 2 fan and not an expert at judging or developing NHL talent I can not say what is best for Nurse, but I can hardly wait for the wailing as to what league he should be playing in. Enough I am going to guess to turn husband against wife, dog against cat, RB against JW.

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#47 Casey
May 28 2014, 03:35PM
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I never knew this day would come!! Thank you KHL!!! Now Larsen and Grebeshkov won't steal the 7th defensmen spot. Larsen was all right but c'mon do we really need another J.Schultz? I don't see why MacT chose another non-defensive player for our blueline. he isn't a fit here. Now can Mark Fraser make his way out?

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#48 Spoils
May 28 2014, 12:43PM
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Considering how little he is thought of on this site, he sure ate up a lot of minutes.

Here's wishing him the best of luck in the K!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVP4ilfwQ4Y

(one for the memory banks.)

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#49 OldSchool
May 28 2014, 11:24AM
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Bucknuck wrote:

"Fedun and Larsen were competing for similar minutes, and while Larsen (inexplicably) won them this year he's now out of the way."

The inexplicable probably falls under the heading of player development. Fedun got better quality minutes in a minor league setting, and could better develop his game.

Everyone goes on about player development and letting the kids develop in the minors, stating that the Oilers don't do this and damning them for it. But when they have done it, they get jumped on for putting stop gap players into the lineup instead (Larsen).

Damned if they do, damned if they don't. It's one of the bad things about losing as much as they do.

If the kids can play, they should cease to become "prospects" and don't require "development in the minors".

Which is the the point that the steady stream of "stopgap" players become superfluous.

Draft- develop- let the kids play already! Show a little faith in the player and your system.

If the system isn't producing quality players, change the system. /sheesh

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#50 j
May 28 2014, 12:48PM
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loweblows wrote:

because we need another small forward-trash

And Burns played forward in junior - Lemaire turned him into a defenseman in Minny. And he is a much better hockey player (at either position).

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